Well, it's been two years, but he has once again written a beautiful essay for school (6th grade) and he is happy to have me share it with you here, today. The assignment was to write a personal essay, and start with the words "I believe":
Playing With Autism
I believe that when you help someone or cheer them up, it makes you feel good. That is what I do with my twin brother Jacob, who has autism. Autism means his mind works differently, especially around words. It’s not really like having a twin. He is more like a little brother, even though he is bigger than me.
Play fighting is my brother’s favorite game. His favorite place to play fight is in my bed. To him, a play fight is actually reenacting part of his favorite tv show, Dragonball Z-Kai. In mid-fight Jacob started quoting an episode from the show. Then he started making weird motions with his body then got right back into the fight.
Jacob doesn’t know his own strength. I had to tell him to go easy, when he hit me so hard I could see the whole Milky Way spinning around my head!
It isn’t easy having a brother so strong, who acts so young. It’s like playing with Superman. He kept asking me to smack him harder, but I can’t stand striking him. I did it anyway. He’s not made of ceramic, after all.
During one of our battles, I ended up riding on his back like a cowboy busting a bronco, tearing through the entire house. I got pretty good at it. Maybe I should take riding lessons on a dude ranch.
Jacob needs me to play with him because he doesn’t really have any other friends. There is one girl from his school that plays on his special needs basketball and baseball teams, and sometimes they go to the movies on weekends, but that’s it.
Jacob says “Ethan, you’re my best friend!” and that makes me sad. I have lots of friends who come over to my house and we do all kinds of things together, but Jacob just has me. Jacob knows the names of all my friends and is always asking for them to come over. Most of the time they ignore him, but some of them will be nice and try to play with him a little, or answer some of his funny questions like “Who is your favorite engine?"
He is always asking me to play with him. “Play with me, Ethan. Play with me, now!” Sometimes I feel like it, but a lot of times I really don’t. When I say “no” he keeps talking to me. “Hi, Ethan” he will say, over and over again, even though we’re still in the same room. So I put down my book and play with him for five minutes.
When Jacob is grinning like a hyena, he looks so happy and I feel great. It is like his joy flows right into me. When I see him happy or just cute it makes me the happiest man on earth. Cheering him up cheers me up. There is only one thing better than seeing my brother, Jacob, happy, and that is making him happy.
Pretty heady stuff for an 11 and a 1/2 year old, no?
Also, in the name of full disclosure, I have to tell you that this is written from, shall we say, Ethan's best, most idealized self. There are still plenty of "I wish I didn't have a brother" days, but there IS this kindness and empathy too, all mixed in.
Thank you, Ethan, my lovely son, for your wise and loving contribution to my blog today. I can't wait to see what you will come up with next!